After three acclaimed novels, Gary Shteyngart turns to memoir in a candid, witty, deeply poignant account of his life so far. Shteyngart shares his American immigrant experience, moving back and forth through time and memory with self-deprecating humor, moving insights, and literary bravado. The result is a resonant story of family and belonging that feels epic and intimat...more
I loved this book so much that I finished it more than a week ago and I am still mulling it over. How can I write a review of a memoir so funny and brilliant and insightful and emotional and just plain good? My review will never be able to explain everything I admired in Shteyngart's writing. I used more than 50 Post-it flags to mark great passages. How can I share all of that?
I loved this book so much that I have already begged several friends to read it. I pleaded and cajo ...more
There are many accounts in this book that would have never made it into a life story written by an aging ...more
Half of it is just my own lack of charity, I suppose, I mean anything that calls itself a Memoir is going to be me, me, me, isn't it? What was I thinking?
There is an essential question around memoir that is thrown into high relief ...more
Many hours it turned out to be, for I constantly fell asleep, due to the fact that I was either tired of working physically hard and very long hours for weeks now, or did not have time for a good sitting with the book, or the subject matter turned stale. I was not sure where the bo ...more
Shteyngart’s Ukrainian and Belarussian ancestors ended up in Leningrad, where he was raised as the only child of a failed op ...more
At a surface level, the memoir delves into the challenges of bridging two disparate cultures: the monochromatic country of Soviet Russia and the almost too colorful, let-it-al ...more
I have to say, the first half of this book is beyond priceless. I ...more
That said, Little Failure is ideal. It's somewhere in between. Shteyngart portrays himself as a jerk of the highest order, but a product of his dysfunctional family. (What a family! And what a waste it ...more
The goal of politics is to make us children. The more heinous the system the more this is true. The Soviet system worked best when its adults -- its men, in particular -- were welcomed to stay at the emotional level of not-particularly-advanced teenagers. Often at a dinner table, a male Homo sovietcus will say something uncouth, hurtful, disgusting because this is the teenager's right and prerogative, this is what the system has raised him to be, and his wife will say, Da tishe! -- Be quiet! --...more
Years before he graduated from our high school alma mater, I met the likes of Gary Shteyngart in the narrow hallways and staircases of that aging, decrepit high school building on East 15th Street; other Garys spending hours smoking pot and drinking beer in the adjoining park named Stuyvesant Square, holding forth on philosophical discussions ranging from Freudian psychoanalysis to a potential nuclear war between the United State ...more
Now, the sentence that I just wrote is so clumsy, so badly worded, so BAD, that you'll appreciate Shteyngart all the more when you crack open Little Failure - his first memoir - and start reading its exuberant pages. You won't want to put the book down. But, heck, if you've read ...more
Shteyngart was born Igor, not Gary, in the former Soviet Union. He recounts his childh ...more
I remember reading The Russian Debutante's Handbook, falling all over myself laughing at the first chapter and gradually losing interest as the book progressed. Here too, there were many great moments but unfortunately not as much sustained momentum.
I do love the guy's writing. I love, in spite of myself, the whole angsty Jewish thing even if I find it a bit hackneyed at times. This book reminded me ...more
I guess I should give Mr. Shteyngart credit for really writing about himself, warts and all, but it was just too many warts for me. I think I asked for Little Failure at my library because I heard an interview with Mr. Shteyngart on NPR. I had not read any of his fiction. I don't plan to now.
Gary Shteyngart immigrated from Russia with his parents when he was a child. The transition was a real shock. He w ...more
His first novel, The Russian Debutante's Handbook (2002), received the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award.